Darwīsh, Sayyid [Sayed]
- Samha El-Kholy
(b Alexandria, March 17, 1892; d Alexandria, Sept 15, 1923). Egyptian composer and singer. He is the most popular figure in Egyptian music. He had a hard childhood, during which he learnt the Qur'an and religious chants, as well as picking up the current secular songs. For two years he studied Islamic theology at a branch of the Al Azhar mosque, but he then decided to make his career as a singer-composer. He had to sing at modest local cafés, and he attributed his early compositions to a famous composer. Under family pressure he was sometimes forced to take manual jobs, and his early marriage, the first of four, complicated matters. Once, while working as a builder and singing to entertain his fellow workers, he was heard by the Syrian brothers Attalah, who engaged him to sing with their drama troupe on a trip to Syria. During his travels he learnt a great deal about classical Arab vocal forms from the master ‘Uthmān al-Mawṣilī....